Monday, 4 August 2014

How to Paper Piece- Awkward Angles

When I am cutting fabric for paper piecing, I lay my ruler on top of the pattern piece that I want to work on.

I line the 1/4 inch line of the ruler up with the line that I am about to sew and then measure the size of fabric piece that will be required to cover the shape, allowing about 1/2 inch on all remaining sides.

In the example above, I have outlined the pattern piece that I want to sew in light green. As it is at the edge of the pattern, I need to be careful to cover right up to the edges of the paper so as to allow a seam allowance.

I have therefore decided to cut a piece of fabric that is approximately 3" x 6.75"

This method works well for most pieces, but when there are long thin pieces and awkward angles, it becomes very wasteful of fabrics. In these cases I work a bit differently.

An example of difficult pieces like these can be found in the body of the butterfly pattern. I will use piece D5 of the 12 inch butterfly pattern (E5 of the small butterfly pattern) as an example.
Spot the deliberate mistake! Yup I absent mindedly cut piece D4 too short so if you see signs of unpicking in the rest of this tutorial you know why!!!
Cut a rectangle of fabric allowing at least an extra 1/2 inch of fabric on all sides, it really pays to be generous with your fabric on pieces like this as a slightly misaligned piece can lead to a lot of unpicking. I cut my piece 2 inches x 6 inches. It probably wouldn't have hurt to make it slightly longer, but I managed just fine.

Now place your paper pattern on your ironing board with the printed side facing upwards.

Place your fabric on top of the pattern piece that you want to sew with the right side pointing down. (Remember that the fabric and printed side of the pattern end up facing opposite directions on the finished block.)

Fold the fabric along the line that you are going to sew and press.

Now hold your fabrics up to the light. With the right side of the fabric facing towards the right side of the part of the block that has already been sewn, line the fold up with the line that you are going to sew.

Sorry I don't have a lightbox so this stage is a bit difficult for me to take photos of.  You have to take my word for it that the fold is lying along the line.

IMPORTANT! If you compare the last two photos, you will notice that I have marked the ends of the folds with arrows. This is just to remind you to pay attention to how these ends lie in relation to the paper. If the fabric is too high or too low you will probably end up missing the end the pattern piece that you want to cover.

Once you are happy that the alignment is good, keeping the fabric in the same position, gently unfold the fabric.

Move the fabrics into position in your sewing machine ready to sew.

In some cases, you will be able to re-check your alignment once it is in the machine, as you will be able to see the creased ends of the fold protruding past the edges of the paper.

If you are being cautious, feel free to sew the seam with large basting stitches. If you are feeling confidant, sew with your usual small paper piecing stitches.

Check whether your fabric covers the paper as you want. If so, go over your basting stitches with small stitches and then continue trimming and pressing as you normally would.

If you are not happy with the positioning of your fabric, pay attention to where your stitching has landed in relation to your crease. Unpick, reposition and try again.

And here's the finished pieces all trimmed

I hope this helps. If it saves one person frustration, then it was worth writing!

This tutorial is a follow on from my basic paper piecing tutorial.
If you need tips on sewing your papers together, you can find them here.
Don't forget to start work on your projects for the Butterfly Challenge.


  1. Great tips and hints :-) I also have an 'Add-A-Quarter' ruler which I have found really useful in all my foundation piecing - have you seen these? Well worth while.

  2. Thank you for this tip.Strange angles are the one thing that has given me most trouble-until now.Can't wait to use this method.

  3. I don't have many problems unpicking the ackward angles because I already use a similar method like yours. But it takes me a lot of time because I make that fold behind the paper and then I have to look through the paper (I don have a lightbox either) and turn the paper back and front several times until I am sure the fold is in place. Your method simplifies all this a lot. You will save my time (and life LOL). Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge =)


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